Rick Hendrick, NASCAR Hall of Famer, Talks Valuing People Over Profits

In this edition of our Corporate Competitor Podcast, Rick Hendrick, NASCAR Hall of Famer, sat down with longtime Sports Illustrated Associate Editor Don Yaeger to discuss how sports shaped the legendary leader’s values.

Today’s “cancel culture” tells us that when something or someone isn’t working, you need to make a change and make it quickly. One of the most successful in his industry emphasizes the opposite: Develop — don’t fire — your people and profits will follow. Rick Hendrick grew up on his family’s farm and turned that formula and his passion for the automobile into several successful business ventures.

The first, Hendrick Automotive Group, is the largest privately held automotive retail organization in the United States. With more than 130 retail franchises from the Carolinas to California, the company employs more than 10,000 people. The company’s top 15 leaders have been with Hendrick for an average of more than 25 years, a record of longevity and loyalty that would be hard to match in any industry.

Secondarily, he founded Hendrick Motorsports in 1984. Since then, his team has won an all-time record 13 NASCAR Cup Series championships. His rock-star roster of drivers has included Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Chase Elliott.

This episode explores the ultimate formula for competitors who want to keep their team revved up, including: Keys to proper communication, how to celebrate IMPROVEMENT as much as success, and how to limit mistakes.

“You can only drive people for so long,” Hendrick said, “but you can lead them forever.”


(3:00) Hendrick’s childhood and humble beginnings.

(12:15) The best way to motivate your team.

(17:00) How Hendrick’s team leveraged the lessons they learned in the Pandemic.

(21:00) How to appreciate challenging times.

(29:30) The difference between driving people and leading people.

(32:00) How to speak truth to your team.

Check out the full Corporate Competitor Podcast interview archive.


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